EXTREME COLD safety tips for your family, pets, and home

January 2, 2018


The National Weather Service forecast predicts temperatures this week and weekend will remain below freezing, with wind chill factors driving temperatures into negative numbers.


Extremely cold temperatures are dangerous to people, animals, and property. Be sure to check on those who live alone, and/or the elderly or sick as they may not be able or prepared to take the necessary precautions.If you must be outside during this time, dress appropriately for the conditions. Cover as much skin as possible to minimize your exposure, and take breaks indoors to warm up. Do not ignore it if you begin shivering. It’s an important first sign in the progression of hypothermia.


Warnings signs of hypothermia:

• bright red, cold skin

• shivering, exhaustion

• confusion, fumbling hands

• memory loss, slurred speech

• drowsiness


If you notice any of those signs, take the person’s temperature. If their temperature is below 95 degrees, seek medical attention immediately. If no medical care is available, or not immediately available, begin warming the person by:

• Getting the victim into a warm room or shelter.

• Remove any wet clothing.

• Warm the center of the body first. Electric blankets or your own body heat can help.

• Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but not alcoholic beverages.

• Keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.


The dangers of frostbite:

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. You should also know the symptoms:

• a white or grayish-yellow skin area

• skin that feels unusually firm or waxy

• numbness


You should seek medical attention if conditions to the affected area do not improve.


Protecting pets during extremely cold temperatures:

All pets need adequate shelter from the elements and insulation against cold weather. Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather. Like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. The young and the senior pets are especially at risk. Pets with arthritis are prone to more discomfort in cold and damp environments.


Indoor accommodations are best for pets during extreme temperature drops, but if that is not possible, set up a suitable house in an area protected from wind, rain, and snow. Insulation, such as straw or blankets will help them keep their body heat.Caution: do not use a heat lamp, space heater, or other device not approved for use with animals. Using these devices could result in burn hazard for your pet and may be a potential fire hazard. Pet-supply vendors sell heated mats for pets to sleep on or to be placed under a dog house, but read and follow directions carefully before use.  Fresh water is a must at all times. Pets are not able to get enough water from licking ice or eating snow. Also remember: Cats will seek warmth where they can find it and that may be the warm engine of a car just parked. Before staring your car, knock on the hood or honk the horn to scare off any cats – and prevent a tragedy.


Keep warm SAFELY:

Cold temperatures may prompt families to turn to drastic measures, such as using a gas oven or charcoal grill, to heat the home. Even traditional alternative heating sources, such as a fireplace or space heater can be dangerous if not used properly.


Carbon Monoxide Prevention 

• Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home. 

• Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes could seep in through a window. 

• Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually. 

• Have a licensed professional inspect heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances annually. 

• Install fuel-burning appliances properly and operate according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

• Do not use unvented gas or kerosene space heaters in enclosed spaces. Keep doors open to the rest of the house to help promote proper ventilation. 

• Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool to avert the buildup of carbon monoxide, especially at night while families sleep. 

• Do not run a fuel-powered engine, such as a vehicle or generator, inside the home or in an attached garage or carport. CO fumes can seep into the home through air intake valves, baseboards and doors. 


Fire prevention:

Of course, if using electric space heaters, be sure that they are well away from anything flammable. Be sure your smoke detectors are functioning properly and have a home fire extinguisher near the kitchen, garage, and primary sections of the home.


Preventing Frozen Pipes:

Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are all vulnerable to freezing, especially if there are cracks or openings that allow cold, outside air to flow across the pipes. Cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes should be sealed with caulking to keep cold wind away from the pipes.Vulnerable pipes that are accessible should be fitted with insulation sleeves or wrapping (which slows the heat transfer), the more insulation the better. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets can keep warm inside air from reaching pipes under sinks and in adjacent outside walls. It’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to let the warm air circulate around the pipes. Electric heating tapes and cables are available to run along pipes to keep the water from freezing. These must be used with extreme caution; follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid the risk of fire. Tapes and cables with a built-in thermostat will turn heat on when needed. Tapes without a thermostat have to be plugged in each time heat is needed, and may be forgotten.A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief.


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Law office of T. Verner Smith

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112 N. Liberty  Jackson TN

(731) 423-1888


Law office of T. Verner Smith

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